A new law requiring horses be microchipped has been introduced today (25 June, 2018) in a bid to crack down on abuse and improve welfare.
The new legislation, which was laid before Parliament, means it will be mandatory from October 2020 for all owners to microchip their ponies, horses and donkeys – regardless of the animal’s age.
The new Central Equine Database will then allow local authorities and police to track down the owners of dumped horses, make sure they are punished and ensure the animals are given the care they deserve. It will also mean lost or stolen horses will be reunited with their owners more easily, Defra explained.
Lord Gardiner, animal welfare minister, said: “The Government shares the British public’s high regard for animal welfare and it is completely unacceptable hundreds of horses and ponies are left abandoned every year by irresponsible owners. That is why we have today laid new regulations in Parliament requiring horses to be microchipped.
“This will bolster the ability of local authorities and police to identify abandoned animals, ensuring these beautiful creatures receive the care they deserve and that those who mistreat them will face the consequences.”
In a statement, Defra said: “We are working closely with vets and the British Horse Council to highlight the change in regulations, explaining horse owners have until October 2020 to make sure all horses are microchipped. This extra time will allow horse owners to combine microchipping with a routine visit to, or from, their vet with the procedure costing around £25 to £30.”
RSPCA assistant director of external affairs David Bowles said: “We are delighted regulations to ensure horses of all ages should be microchipped are set to become a reality.
“The RSPCA rescued almost 1,000 horses last year , and a huge majority were not microchipped, making it virtually impossible to trace the owners. Heartbreakingly, our inspectors are frequently faced with horses that have been dumped while very sick, dying, or sometimes even dead.
“We believe this extension of the current rules on compulsory microchipping will go some way to help find those irresponsible owners that abandon their horses as well as helping owners be reunited with their animals that have been stolen.”
If horse owners do not microchip their horses by October 2020 they could face sanctions from their local authority, including a compliance notice and, as a last resort, a fine of up to £200.
The regulations for the database will, subject to Parliamentary approval, come into force on 1 October, 2018.
They are similar in nature to the legislation which requires all dogs to be microchipped. But crucially with a centralised database.
Horse microchipping is veterinary only